Drone, Location-Tracking App Aid Law Enforcement in Search for Missing Student

Law enforcement officials are hoping a location-tracking app and a drone will help solve the disappearance of a 20-year-old Knoxville college student .

Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said a body was found near Ballard’s Way in George’s Creek on Monday afternoon, which drains into Fort Loudoun Lake. That’s not far from the area where missing Crown College student Blake Smith’s car was found on Sunday.

Authorities have not yet positively identified the body, and are still investigating what happened to Smith, a Crown College student who was last seen on Saturday night.

They’ve received some big clues through the use of technology, including a phone app that revealed Smith’s last known location.

“We use an app called Life360, you can track your children or track your family,” Blake’s father, Jim, said. “All of us, our family are on that.”

According to the app, Blake Smith’s phone was at a construction site, where the Blount County Sheriff’s Office found his car.

“That was very beneficial that the family had an app on his phone that located the car or at least where his phone was, which was with the car,” Blount County Sheriff Lee Berrong said. “(It’s a) big advantage to us in finding out the whereabouts of him. ”

Tech Expert Paul Sponcia said tracking apps like Life360 can help law enforcement and your family.

“This is a great example of how important it is, and how helpful it can be in really bad situations,” Sponcia said. “How many people have been lost in the Smokies? And things like this can provide a lot of value at least to know where they were at one point.”

That location eventually led the search and rescue team to an unidentified body using another piece of technology — a drone.

Law enforcement agencies across the nation are using drones to aid in their searches

Drones that help law enforcement and fire agencies across the nation keep people safe.

“These tools are critical tools for law enforcement, for search and rescue, I mean there’s underwater drones–I mean there’s all kinds of situations where these can be used. So it’s like everything else, it’s taking advantage of both the human side of it, the human intuition, and the technology, are really important,” Sponcia said.

They’re helping locally at the Oak Ridge Fire Department.

“If we can keep the firefighters out of danger, then it’s safer for everyone,” Oak Ridge Firefighter Engineer Adam Daughtery said.

They’re helping up in West Seneca, New York.

“Situational awareness in any type of hostage stand off,” Lieutenant John McNamara wit the West Seneca Police Department said.

And they’re helping in Cleveland, Ohio.

“You take this aerial view, you use thermal technology, you have the ability to locate someone,” Chief Clayton A. Harris Tri-C Police Department said.

Hopefully giving families like the Smiths a small source of peace in a terrible situation.

“We will continue to pray, and continue to ask the Lord to lead, guide and direct us while we’re here,” Kim Smith said.

The sheriff said it’s too soon to say if foul play was involved in Smith’s disappearance.

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